The 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers team was a final grasp at a championship before the inevitable end of a dynasty. To add to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers brought in Gary Payton and Karl Malone, building what we would today refer to as a super team.
Due to the ages of some of their players — and injuries to Bryant and O’Neal — it was a team built for the postseason. They went 56-26 to get the No. 2 seed in spite of that.
The Lakers did not need more than six games to get through any of the conference opponents, as it was clear their team was reaching their potential. The Bryant-O’Neal rift was present, but on the backburner as the Lakers made it to their fourth finals in five years.
There, they faced an unlikely opponent in the young and scrappy Detroit Pistons. This team, led by Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, and others, was known for their defense and their physicality. They were built similarly to the championship Pistons of the late 1980’s.
In the Finals, they took advantage of an old and battered Lakers team, stopping any offensive attacks they had. The Lakers lost in five games as the Pistons won their third ever championship and the conference’s first since Michael Jordan in 1998.
NBA regular season statistics
NBA regular season schedule and results
NBA playoffs statistics
NBA playoffs schedule and results